Collaborative efforts help decrease local pharmacy crimes - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Collaborative efforts help decrease local pharmacy crimes

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Last year, more pharmacies were robbed in Indiana than any other state.

As surprising as that is, its even more shocking that the Hoosier state beat second place Ohio by 56 pharmacy robberies. However, one local county is not part of that statistic.

Zero. that is the number of robberies St. Joseph County pharmacies saw in 2012, but things have not always been this safe. Back in 2004, pharmacies were being robbed once every six weeks according to the County Pharmacy Association.

After a former local pharmacist found his employees bound and gagged after a robbery, he knew it was time for some changes.

"I decided we had to do something about it and eventually worked with police," said Ken Fagerman, RPH, M.M.. "When we discovered a way to work with police we were able to curtail the problem."

The pharmacists and police departments in the county got together and formed a group to talk strategy on deterring crime. Over the last several years, they've seen the amount of robberies drop.

While local pharmacies could be satisfied that they are seeing fewer pharmacy robberies, it's something they are constantly working on.

"We have to continue diligence. We have to keep up with the technology and awareness is a big part of it," said Marc Merrill, RHD, Merrill Pharmacy.

Working with police, communication, training pharmacists how to react, and even changing the way the stores were set up were all parts of the strategy.

"Just the physical set-up of the stores was not conducive to crime prevention methods," said Captain Phil Trent, South Bend Police Department. "Now at least some of the pharmacies have done a better job of beefing up their prevention security."

The steady decline in crime inspired Ken Fagerman to write "Starring Down the Barrel", a book on dealing with the issues. He says the main key is just by having the community come together to help. He hopes his book teaches others how to do this.

"You can accomplish a lot more than by working individually," said Fagerman. "That is the number one thing is working with police."

Not only did Fagerman release the book to help pharmacists who are interested in crime prevention, but he is now working around Grand Rapids with pharmacies there to combat crime.

Captain Trent said it is nice to know that these local pharmacy robberies have decreased, but there have been an increasing amount of other illegal drug possession charges in the last few years. He says drugs like heroin are being used to replace the problems they used to have with oxycontin, etc...

According to Fagerman, Elkhart Co. has also seen a great decrease in pharmacy crimes over the last 8 years.

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